April 19, 2002
There is a way for you Israelis and friends of Israel to get 95% of what you want. You can have a unified Greater Israel including all of Jerusalem, the West Bank, and Gaza. You can have a complete and friendly peace with your Arab neighbors. You can enjoy the prosperity, freedom, and security that you have always hoped for. All you have to do is give up and disavow the one thing that you should never want, the one thing that is no longer acceptable in this world, the one thing that causes most of the people on this Earth to despise you: your racism. The ICERD (International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination) defines racism as follows:
'Any distinction, exclusion, restriction, or preference based on race, color, descent, or national or ethnic origin which has the purpose or effect of nullifying or impairing the recognition, enjoyment, or exercise, on equal footing, of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social, cultural, or any other field of public life.
By this and by most accepted definitions, your country is a racist state—this is obvious in much-repeated claim that it is a 'Jewish state' whose 'character' would be threatened if non-Jewish Palestinians were to become large minority or a majority. It's also obvious in the limited rights granted to your non-Jewish citizens and in your immigration policies. It's obvious in your occupation and settlement activity in the West Bank and Gaza. It's obvious in the attitudes that you display everyday for the world to see. Racism is simply not acceptable in this day and age; you will have to drop it eventually, one way or another. Racism is also paralyzing and destroying your country. It's the cause of your increasing internal and external conflicts. Your racism makes you unable to incorporate the West Bank and Gaza; while your desire for a Greater Israel including Judea makes you unable to return to your 1967 borders. Because of your racism, you are stuck in an intolerable position from which there is no escape. The working plan, the two-state solution, requires a return to the 1967 borders to work at all. And even this would be an interim measure at best for it will meet neither your needs nor the needs of the Palestinian people. It will not bring either peace or security as Israel will remain a racist state denying its racism and its violent past, and Arabs will continue to resent your state. A two-state solution of the Bantustan type offered by Prime Minister Barak will not work at all. If you will just admit the obvious—that Zionism is a form of racism—then the way forward will become clear.
I ask you, why don't you reconstitute Israel as a multiethnic secular democracy with completely equal rights for all? Why don't you simply erase the Green line, incorporate the West Bank and Gaza, grant full citizenship rights to all persons, and live in peace with non-Jews! But, you say, then Israel would lose its 'Jewish character'. I say that it could hardly do so when nearly half the population is Jewish! Answer this: Why, in this day and age, must you have a Jewish state? Far from protecting Jews, this racist Israel is destroying what is best in Judaism and putting Jews into deadly conflict with the rest of the world! But, you say, the Palestinians will never agree to single state! I say that a multiethnic secular state in all of historic Palestine has always been the stated aim of the PLO. It just comes down then to whether the Palestinian people will accept the name 'Israel' for the state they've always wanted. I think that they would under the proper circumstances.
But, you say, the Palestinians would be in the majority and would impose their will on Jews, controlling education, social policies, government spending, etc. This, I say, is a specific political disease that affects most countries in the world, but it easily prevented by writing a proper constitution for a strictly limited government—the kind of government envisioned by America's founding fathers but which no longer exists in America. You just need an explicit, well-written constitution that limits the government to protecting individual rights and property, one that does not allow the majority to force its will on any minority, including the smallest minority: the individual. You need a constitution that completely and eternally separates religion and state, education and state, charity and state, business and state, private behavior and state, etc. You need a constitution that prohibits the government from passing any law beyond those needed to define and protect freedom, property, and the environment. You need a constitution that does not recognize race at all and so cannot embark on racial policies like affirmative action, forced integration, etc. You need a constitution that allows all Israelis, Jews and non-Jews, to associate or not associate with whomever they choose, to hire or fire whomever they chose, to educate their children as they chose, and to help only those that they choose to help. This new Israel would combine all the best aspects relatively free and prosperous places like Hong Kong, Dubai, and Switzerland, but it would go far beyond them to a new kind of freedom and prosperity for the 21rst century and beyond. It would become a model for all states in our increasingly global society.
But, you say, what of the past, what of the anger and hatred caused by 54 years of war? How can Jews and non-Jewish Palestinians ever live together? I say look at South Africa; like it the new state of Israel will also need to admit its past sins and condemn them. It will need to hold a Truth and Reconciliation Conference lasting for years. It will need to forgive those who killed and harmed others due to perverse ideologies and the cycle of violence. The true history of the Jews and the Palestinians must be recognized. The Palestinian people will listen to the Jews' own history of pain and suffering, the causes of their Zionist conquest of Palestine. Sympathy will overcome hatred. The will to forgive and coexist exists on both sides: it just needs the proper political and moral framework.
Please, I beg you, envision a new Israel where Jews and non-Jews tolerate each other, cooperate for mutual benefit, and bring peace and prosperity to themselves and the entire region. You have nothing to lose but your racism.
Doctor Lindner is an American general practice physician who has lived in Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Lebanon. He now lives in Falls, Pennsvania